Sunday, November 6, 2011

There's no business like show business ...

It's the day after the big event and a big bravo and congratulations to the Back Stage and Actorfest 2011 team that pulled off the best Actorfest event ever held.

Thanks to Dany Marguiles for including me in her "Acting 101" panel (with casting director Heidi Levitt, agent Ross Grossman and acting coach Judy Kerr), thanks to all of the actors who came by our booth to chat and thanks to Olivia Mackenzie-Smith and Eric Rollins (pictured) for being an amazing Business of Acting team at booth 175!

Indeed, there is no business like show business. :)


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Set your sights and your career goals on Actorfest 2011 this Saturday!

It's only 2 days to Actorfest 2011!

Get proactive and become connected this Saturday, 11/05, at Back Stage's Actorfest 2011 at the California Market Center.

It's all about you and the career you seek.

See you there!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Actorfest 2011 is designed to turn on your actor proactivity!

I am thrilled to have been asked to participate in this year's Actorfest, sponsored by Backstage on Saturday, November 5, at the California Market Center, in downtown Los Angeles.

It will be a day filled with industry events and loaded with opportunities to meet and greet and to be met and greeted. The exhibition hall is free for everyone to explore. Special panels, workshops and casting opportunities offered throughout the day will provide an extraordinary opportunity for actors and other industry professionals (agents, managers, casting directors, coaches, teachers and service providers) to connect in ways that can empower you on your career journey -- or help you jump start a journey that seems to have stalled and sputtered a bit.

I will be joining a small group of colleagues for a panel titled "Acting 101," at 12noon. Hosted by Backstage managing editor Dany Margoiles, this will be a great opportunity to refresh the page on the strategy of your career and learn how to move forward building the resume you will need to get to that next step.

There is a full workshop schedule available on the event website, as well as all off the information you need to sign up, get prepared and hit the Actorfest 2011 ground running on November 5.

I hope to meet you there!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

An open-and-shut case of business of acting greed?

I received an e-mail today from an actor in Philadelphia who wrote to ask a question about the value of access and information. Casting directors was the subject -- and the question so irked me that I want to share it – and my response.

Chapter 10 in The New Business of Acting teaches actors how to create their personal action plan, an essential tool and map for the launch and growth of any career in this business. One of the key strategies I write about in the chapter is to include a plan for seeking out and meeting with casting directors for informational interviews. In the old days, in the off-season, most casting directors would set aside time to meet with actors whom they didn’t get a chance to meet during the production season.

These “general” interviews were not role-specific, but rather an opportunity for the casting director to broaden her base and knowledge of available talent. It was a great way for actors and casting directors to connect without the pressure and stress of having to cast a role.

As the landscape has changed, relatively few casting directors do this any more. I know a few who still do, but they are a rare and fading breed.

Nonetheless, it remains important for actors to be proactive with their outreach and attempt to meet with as many industry professionals as they can on a regular basis.

This brings me to this morning’s e-mail.

A Philadelphia-based actor who has been reading and absorbing the advise in the book (smart actor!) began implementing her action plan with a contact to a local casting director she was hoping to meet with for an informational interview. The casting director, as it turns out, was very interested in and happy to meet with her – for a fee!

The actor was told that for a fee of $100 the casting director would make herself available for a one-on-one informational interview. A bit stunned, the actor’s next step was to write me ask my opinion. In the same e-mail, the actor asked about the value of “open calls,” perhaps, in some way, a bit related.

I responded:

“One-hundred dollars to have an informational interview?” I have never heard of this. Ever. Find someone else to connect with.

By ‘open calls’ for casting directors, are you referring to an open call for a specific project the casting director is seeking actors for — or do you mean a ‘general’ one-on-one meeting with a casting director, giving both the casting director and the actor an opportunity to meet “in general” and not for a specific project?

Either way, the answer is that it depends. It depends on the project and it depends on the casting director. Some actors will say that any opportunity to get ‘face time’ with a casting director is worth anything. I disagree. When I went undercover as an actor while writing the book, I also went to a couple of open calls. I thought the process was very disrespectful of the actors who showed up seeking a break or an opportunity. I think it’s important to weigh every aspect of the situation and then make a decision, without becoming invested in the outcome.

With regard to a ‘general’ with a legitimate, professional casting director, it can often be a very valuable ‘get’ for an actor to land one of these appointments, as it can be valuable for the casting director to get to know an actor she might not otherwise have had exposure to. But never, ever pay for the opportunity, unless the casting director is also willing to pay you for your time, as well. Seems a fair deal to me.”

Case closed, from my perspective.

Your thoughts? What would you do?


Friday, July 29, 2011

It takes a village ...

I am looking forward to tonight's panel on Team Work to kick off the SAG Conservatory 2011 Summer Intensive, at AFI, in Hollywood. I am thrilled to have been asked to talk about how this all works in the new business of acting, from my manager's perspective.

I am also looking forward to picking up some helpful pointers from the perspective of the SAG actors who will be attending.

Indeed, it takes a village ... or, in this case, a strong, proactive and strategic team.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Actor as Manager? Not a smart role to play.

When should actors team up to "manage" each other? Never!

My thanks to Jackie Apodaca for including me in her column in this week's Back Stage in answer to an inquiry she received from an actor on the question of whether actor friends acting as manager for each other was a good idea.

The New Business of Acting addresses this issue throughout the book -- and Jackie has nicely condensed this perspective into her response.

In short, it's not (just) about the submissions you make; it's (also) about the relationships you build and the choices you make, not just in the beginning, but throughout your career journey.

One of the mistakes many actors make is in believing that they are just one submission away from a career. This could not be further from the truth. It's about process, it's about commitment, it's about passion -- and it's about earning the opportunities you seek. Making business-smart decisions along the way is priority one.

Jackie's column is well worth the read.


Monday, May 2, 2011

"Do you SAG take AFTRA to love, honor and cherish ... ?"

Chapter 7 in The New Business of Acting discusses the current state of AFTRA and SAG which has steadily moved forward together to shore up both the ability and the opportunity to jointly represent actors and broadcasters in this new landscape.

More good news from the union front was released on Friday and, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, spells out the very real possibility that both entities will soon merge to do the job better together than they can do apart or against each other.

Bravo to the leadership of both unions with this move and the public announcement of what appears to be an engagement; wedding date to be announced.

For those SAG actors who have voiced opposition and concern about the ability of a merged union to represent both actors and broadcasters under one banner, I say relax. This can easily be accomplished by establishing divisions within a new union with each division dedicated and devoted to representing the members who fall within those divisions. Don't forget, many actors/broadcasters are also members of both unions.

The biggest hurdle to be tackled is to figure out how a new, single union will approach membership matters. Currently, with SAG membership earned and AFTRA membership paid for, a system for how to fairly deal with the requirements of union membership should be top priority in the strategic plan to move forward.

Perhaps a variable membership plan is in order, whereby the division to which a new union member would belong would dictate the requirements of initiation and membership.

Let's hope the devil isn't in the details. All in all, this a great move.

Your thoughts?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Emerson College's Hollywood Report Editor Caldwell Covers "The Business of Acting Live"

Much appreciation to Larry Caldwell, Editor of Emerson College L.A. Center's The Hollywood Report, for his coverage on our recent New Business of Acting seminar at AFTRA headquarters, in Los Angeles, in his article "The Business of Acting Live" in the new Spring 2011 issue.

Please check it out.

Thank you, Larry!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An important win for Breakdown Services and the legitimate business of acting ...

Selling Breakdowns is illegal, yet some actors and others claiming to represent actors do it with regularity nonetheless. Chapter 6 in The New Business of Acting (“Self-Submitting: The Art of Selectivity in Pursuing Career Opportunities”) addresses this issue.

It is a no-win situation for both the actor who has paid hard-earned money for illegal access and for the shyster who has ignored both history and law and gone ahead and ripped off actors anyway.

Witness the most recent example: The case of Brian Burke.

If an actor wants an edge in the (new) business of acting, go out and earn it. There are no shortcuts. To the agent, manager or other industry-connected person who thinks it’s okay to make a profit by taking advantage of (usually) vulnerable actors, you harm the general reputations of all of us who work hard to do the right thing every day.

Case closed.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Back Stage article serves up important advice for those about to graduate ...

I am so happy to be included among the "experts" quoted in the terrific article in the new edition of Back Stage titled "Things They Don't Teach You in Acting School." For young actors about to make the transition from college to the real world, I think it's important reading.

As I see it, the greatest challenge for all of you, including the seniors currently in my Emerson College Business of Acting class who are soon to graduate, is to turn your degree and your training into marketable materials that can actually help get you a paying job -- and launch your career. I hope you will find some of my suggestions and advice in the BS article to be helpful.

I'm also happy to answer any questions on the topic that you might have.

Thanks and much appreciation to BS's Jessica Gardner for asking for my input.


Thursday, March 17, 2011 debuts a new, redesigned and improved website ...

Happy to announce that we have just launched our brand new Business of Acting website!

It's in support of the new book, or course, and the Resources page is packed with access to great information and free downloads (like resume, bio and head shot samples).

One of the most interesting links is the one to the California Department of Industrial Relations where you can read about challenges to the Talent Agencies Act by actors seeking to get out of paying management commissions. Chapter 4 in The New Business of Acting goes into this in great detail, but the opportunity to peek into the actual cases that are impacting the new landscape is quite eye opening.

Thanks to Trang Caos for her fabulous work on this complete redesign, also for the new landscape.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival workshop teaches actors how to approach the new business of acting after graduation ...

Thanks to all of the people who attended my New Business of Acting workshop last night at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Nice meeting all of you!

The transition from student of the performing arts to becoming a professional, working actor was the primary focus of our session. It can be rocky road at the beginning of this journey, unless you have clear, empowered perspective and a smart, strategic and realistic action plan in place.

Chapter 10 in The New Business of Acting: How to Build a Career in a Changing Landscape teaches you how to do it. For a sneak peek and a condensed overview, take a look at my recent Back Stage article on the topic.

In short, as I told the group of terrific, young actors last night:

Don't rush to find and secure representation (by an agent or manager).
Don't rush to join any of the unions (work to build your resume however you can first).
Start taking professional level classes and workshops taught by professionals.
Have a head shot session only when you can afford to do it right.

There was a wide range of questions that came up during our session. I will be addressing a lot these topics here in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, if you have a New Business of Acting-related question, post it or e-mail me directly at


Saturday, January 15, 2011

LOGO stand-up debut for Kelly Mantle this Monday night ...

Congratulations to my amazing client Kelly Mantle on his hilarious, knock-it-out-of-the-ballpark performance* in LOGO's "Dragtastic" standup comedy special airing this Monday night, 1/17/11, at 10:00ET/9:00CT.

Don't miss it!

Here is a link to a sneak peak:


*The phrase is deliberate. His uncle was the baseball great Mickey Mantle.

Monday, January 3, 2011

More than just "Monkee" business ...

Looking back, 1966 was a very good year for American pop culture. “Star Trek” began boldly going where no other television series had gone before. Adam West was a hit as TV’s “Batman” and one of Billboard’s number one songs of the year* came from a group that until September 12, 1966, no one had ever heard of.

Enter “The Monkees.” Davy Jones, Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz found fame, notoriety and a place in both television and music history as a group of actors cast to play a group of musicians, who went on to find real-life fame as the musicians they portrayed.

Micky Dolenz who had amassed many acting credits before landing “The Monkees” talks about the formation of the group, the success that followed and his perspective on success in the business of acting in our 1994 interview, just added to the collection at

I was huge fan and the opportunity to talk “Monkees” was beyond cool.

I’m happy to be able to share this with you.


* “I’m a Believer”